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The future of our water is the topic of public seminar


Zuleika Henderson
22 October 2009
A free public seminar on water resources and how they can be managed in an ecologically sound way, both now and in the future, will take place at Southern Cross University’s Riverside campus in Tweed Heads on Wednesday, October 28.

‘Water resources in the 21st century’, which aims to explore the increasingly controversial global and local issues around this precious natural resource, will be a two-part seminar with presentations by two academics from Southern Cross University’s School of Environmental Science and Management.

Associate Professor Caroline Sullivan will present ‘Global water resources’, which will explore the present state and future prospects of water resources. Part two is entitled ‘Bringing the global to the local’ and will be presented by Associate Professor Alison Specht, who will explore the environmental consideration of meeting our increasing water demand under a changing climate, with particular reference to the water requirements of the important wildlife in the islands of Southern Moreton Bay.

Professor Caroline Sullivan said her presentation aimed to address some of the key challenges to water management in the future.

“Water resources are part of a finite closed system and in any time period when human populations are rising the per capita amount of water available inevitably decreases,” said Professor Sullivan.

“There is little doubt that there is plenty of water in the world, but only about 2.5% of it is freshwater, much if which is held in polar ice caps or inaccessible aquifers.

“This currently must be shared by the huge number of humans depending on that water, and by all other aquatic and terrestrial species as well.

“Given our population is predicted to rise to between 8 and 9 billion by 2050, there is indeed some cause for concern over potential conflicts over water use – which are likely only to be addressed through research and political cooperation.”

Professor Alison Specht, who has conducted research on the water requirements of the ecosystems of southern Moreton Bay, agreed that water would continue to be a contentious issue.

“Water and its scarcity has been on the national agenda for many years, with particular focus on the Murray Darling system,” said Professor Specht.

“But recently, as south-east Queensland suffered under one of the worst droughts in history, water has no longer been seen as abundant, but as a limited resource.

“Since then we have seen the Queensland government undertake a range of water conservation measures, as well as initiate plans for dams, pipeline projects, groundwater extraction and desalinisation, but we know very little about the effects these measures might have on our ecosystems.

“I will be talking about our understanding of the water requirements of these ecosystems, what we know and what we don’t know, and how we can apply this to our decision making – with a special focus on the important plants and animals dependent on freshwater in Moreton Bay.”

The presentation is the last in the 2009 Science Conversation Series of popular seminars, held annually by the School of Environmental Science and Management to promote discussion within the community on important environmental issues

‘Water resources in the 21st century’ will be presented by Associate Professor Caroline Sullivan and Associate Professor Alison Specht on Wednesday, October 28 from 5.30pm- 7.30pm Queensland time (6.30pm-8.30pm NSW time) at Southern Cross University’s Riverside campus in Brett Street, Tweed Heads. Light refreshments will be provided.

To attend email [email protected] or call 02 6620 3650.

Photo: Associate Professor Alison Specht(high resolution image available on request)